The disease can lead to various complications, including increased risk of severe bacterial infections due to loss of functioning spleen tissue. These infections are typically caused by encapsulated organisms such as Streptococcus pneumonia and hemophilic influenza. Daily penicillin prophylaxis is the most commonly used treatment during childhood, with some hematologists continuing treatment indefinitely. Patients benefit today from routine vaccination for S. pneumonia. Cerebral infarction can also occur in children and cerebral hemorrhaging can occur in adults. Cholelithiasis and cholecystitis may result from excessive bilirubin production and precipitation due to prolonged hemolysis.
Avascular necrosis of the hip and other major joints may occur as a result of ischemia (Cober & Phelps 2010). Sickle-cell anemia also has a large impact on sexual functioning and one’s relationships. They found correlations between “sexual activity and support, pain and support, pain and quality of intimate relationship, spouse’s reaction to pain and patient’s pain (Lewis 2015).” There can also be symptoms of painful erections and tissue death within the penis (Lewis 2015). Another symptom is an infection of the bones which is called osteomyelitis. This symptom is usually caused by Salmonella, then Staphylococcus aureus comes next which brings on Gram-negative enteric bacilli and acute papillary necrosis or in other words, tissue death in the kidneys (Fallon 2013).
Leg ulcers are also a common symptom along with retinopathy of all kinds in the eyes, retinal detachment, and vitreous hemorrhages which could all lead to blindness. With that being said, it is very common for those with the disease to need annual eye exams. For those with the disease who are pregnant, it is possible to experience intrauterine growth retardation where the baby does not grow the normal weight during pregnancy, random abortions, constant pain, and extremely high blood pressure known as preeclampsia (Albagir 2009).